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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm doing a work exchange for some people that own a 2 year old gelding that is pretty aggressive. They want me to work with him on basic ground manners, and make him safe. The colt has actually chased both owners out of his pen, as well as bit them, reared up, and kicked at them. They tried to fix this problem by feeding him lots of treats, and now none of them handle him because of this problem. I took him and put him in a round pen yesterday for the first time. I'm just trying to get the basic concept of him moving away from me when asked and respecting my space. This was met with a LOT of aggression, he turned around and started backing at me kicking, and then turned and faced me to charge, which i deflected with a lunge whip. I feel unsure of what to do because he is so young. I feel like if I go after him like I would a mature horse, I would lose his trust completely, but at the same time he is pretty dangerous and I don't want to get hurt.

I would like to hear about some of the experiences you guys have had with horses that are aggressive towards people so I can try out some different things. I would like to do more bonding activities with him, but I can barely pet him without him trying to bite or show dominance over me. Any ideas would be awesome!
 

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I would say that you don't have any trust to lose. You have much more serious problems than trust issues if he is attacking you like that. If were going to start him I wouldn't go in there unless I was mounted on a solid horse but that is not an option for most people. Make use of the buggy whip and get his feet moving. In a horses mind if you can make him move away you are the winner. You may try tying a plastic sack on the end of it to see if that will get him to move away from you. It will also keep him from charging you if you stick that whip with a bag on the end of it in his face. Whatever you are trading the work for is not worth getting seriously hurt so be safe before anything else and don't work the horse without someone there that can help you out if you get in trouble.
 

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i bought my horse when he was very recently gelded and recently broke, as a 13 year old. he was very agressive, biting chasing, lounging at people, dogs, horses anything. his ears were always back and his teeth bared, he was just scary
when i bought him i turned him out for 2 months and didnt work him at all, ( he had been ridden wayy too much in such a short amount of time it drive him bonkers)
after about 2 months of just feeding him, giving him treats, hanging out with him for a couple hours a day every day, handwalking, stuff like that he finally let me tack him up without trying to hurt me, and then i started slowly getting him into work, mainly with lots and lots of trust excersises. and now 9ish months later he treats me very respectfully and everyone who knew him before tells me hes a completely different horse.

once in a while i need to get after him with a rough work out to keep him in line but with lots of kindness and spending tons of time with him hes turned out awesome.

i dont know if this method works for any horse, it just worked for mine well
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
O.K. well good to know I'm on the right track at least. My original intention was to put him in the round pen for about a half hour and just make him move. We ended up taking an hour and a half because I couldn't catch him at the end of the session. I ended up having to practically run him into the dirt before he would give in and let me walk up to him and put a halter on. I unfortunately have no horse option, that does sort of answer my question as to how people do this normally since I do feel pretty vulnerable just standing there. When I caught him I ran my hands over his neck and chest and gave him some "good boys". Is there anything else I can do to throw in some variety? I know I'm going to spend the first hour today just trying to catch him.
 

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My advice would be to work him until he wants to come to you every time. This will help him to learn to respect you. If you have to push him harder than you would like in whatever weather you have then just walk him around the round pen once you catch him. The walking around may even help some with gaining some trust, adn he'll be tired enough not to really fight.

Always be aware of where he is. There is no trust to lose with this horse, once you gain his respect it will make it a little easier to work on trust. Be careful.
 

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Age doesn't matter…I wouldn't allow a horse of any age to charge, bite, strike or swap ends and show me its heels. Treat him like any other horse…he's nothing special, although his owners have taught him that he is! Forget trying to bond with him at this point…he has no reason to bond with you until he respects your right to be in his royal presence and to move him when you see fit to do so. Think of it this way, would you want to bond or become friends with someone you had utter distain for? This is a horse that views people as treat dispensers that can be used and abused at will…why would he want to bond with something he views with such low regard? Once you have his respect, then you work on bonding. Just my opinion though...
 

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I agree with Kevinshorses. You have no trust to lose and you don't want him to trust you, you want him to respect you. Trust is only as good as it lasts and horses don't "trust" they RESPECT. If a horse has more respect for you than that scary thing in the corner they will walk by it without a backwards glance. Don't confuse RESPECT with FEAR though. Every time you have to go at him with the whip to get him to back off, commit to it. And do it in a controlled and deliberate way. Chasing, screaming and smacking will not get you where you need to go. You need to make yourself into a huge, unyielding tree-like being. Where he will realize that 1. He can't scare you 2. He can't move you and 3 You CAN move him whenever you want. Remember to use your body to your advantage. Keep your shoulders squared and back, move deliberately and with a purpose and don't ever back up unless you're already in command. Backing away from a horse gives them power, pushing a horse away from you gives you power.

Don't be afraid of his age but don't push him too hard either. At 2, a good hour in the roundpen as long as he's not galloping around the whole time is safe. But working him for hours at a fast pace is not. Take baby steps, but if you have to make him run like an idiot forever or give in to him. It's safer to make him work and get him to respect you than to worry about if you're hurting him and backing off at the edge of a breakthrough. Use your common sense and set yourself up for success. Don't push him if the ground is too wet/soft or if the weather or other distractions are going to make it impossible to get his attention. However, if you're working and something pops up to distract him unless it's dangerous to continue don't let him use it as an excuse to revert to his old habits. It's a game of give and take, try new things and keep his feet moving and his brain working. Good luck and keep us posted! And if he gets too aggressive to where you're put in danger then don't continue to try to train him and risk getting yourself hurt.
 

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Here's what I would do. I agree with the others on "no respect". He is young and will test you to see if you are a leader or not. Obviously in his eyes you are not. You have to think of what the leader (Dominant) horse in the herd would do with a cheeky baby. Put him in his place. Get the respect first. I would not lunge in a round pen at free will. I would have a lunge line on. You will need to be very consistent and very clear of what you want him to do. Its good to have your whip with you but only if you need it as an extension of your arm. Otherwise use the lunge line as your connection of discipline with him. Keep him close to you. Making sure you have his head to pull towards you. He cant kick at you if he is facing you and he cant strike at you if you stay at his shoulder. Make his feet move. If he retaliates, let him but continue to make him move. I guarantee he will retaliate. Make his butt move away from you. Move to his side, kiss while flashing the whip near his butt. Theres your 1st ask to move ( just as a horse in the herd would do with his ears flat back), if he doesnt move or trys to move into you with the intent of kicking at you, pop him on his butt a good one. After using the whip make sure you rub him with it. It is not for fear but training. A dominent horse will do the same with a bite to make another horse move. Make sure if he faces you, you continue to stay at his shoulders and far enough away he can not strike you with his front feet. Asking him to back is the same. Start by using the lunge line and send some energy down it to the halter, like a jerk but not too hard. Just enough to move the line to the halter. If he doesnt move back, jerk a little harder, if he still doesnt, use your whip moving it up and down in front of him as a warning and if he still doesnt move back "POP". He will probably contest you on that so make sure you are not directly in front of him. This has to be done every day in order for him to get it. Unless he is sensitive enough to figure it out faster. His only reward should be no whip or jerking. (Pressure release). If he gets sweaty from running around, that is his problem because you are not asking that he run around but to stand still just to move his feet. Try and end your training on the positive. Hopefully a 1/2hr is long enough but make sure to end positive. I hope this helps. and yes i have been thru the same thing before.
 

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The colt has actually chased both owners out of his pen, as well as bit them, reared up, and kicked at them.
You said he is aggressive towards you? has he tried the above with you?

I have to say I have never had to work with a horse THAT aggressive towards people, but here is what I would do (make sure you wear a helmet when working with him). It sounds like you have the right idea with starting him. He must have not been handled and worked with at all which is why he probably treats anyone who comes in his pen like someone to keep away.

I would keep him in the round pen and make him WORK. If he wants to be an piece of asset, then he's going to be working his asset. End of story.

My rule of thumb is if they have the energy to be jerks towards me(other than trying to tell me something like express pain, or fear), then they will have the energy to work hard. Years ago, a gelding I owned chose he would not load in the trailer. There was no reason for it, he was the most wonderful loader in the world(but my mistake was letting him get away with being a pest during loading the previous time). I refused to fight with him, so we got in habit, that if he didn't want to load, we would immediately lunge, and lunge HARD. It took 2 situations like this in a row, for him to remember what his options were. Never had problems after that.

Once he learns about respecting your space with the lunging in the pen, then start asking to halt, or work down to a walk. Get him to start acting like a civilized horse. Work your way to being able to get him to stand for you, even come to you. It might take some time depending on set he is in his ways, but it can be done. I'm sure he is a wonderful horse, but he has no concept on what respect means, and he needs to learn that.

I don't if it's an option, but I would love to see a video of what he does when you're in the pen with him.
 

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I have to say I have never had to work with a horse THAT aggressive towards people, but here is what I would do (make sure you wear a helmet when working with him). It sounds like you have the right idea with starting him. He must have not been handled and worked with at all which is why he probably treats anyone who comes in his pen like someone to keep away.

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If he had not been handled he would be much more respectful. I would bet that the horse was raised in someones back yard and was fed all kinds of treats and told what bootiful wittle baby he is. He probably has been pushing around his owners since they put a halter on him the first time and he has finally figured out that there is no need to tolerate them. An unhandled horse would be much better to be around.
 

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If he had not been handled he would be much more respectful. I would bet that the horse was raised in someones back yard and was fed all kinds of treats and told what bootiful wittle baby he is. He probably has been pushing around his owners since they put a halter on him the first time and he has finally figured out that there is no need to tolerate them. An unhandled horse would be much better to be around.
Yea you're probably right. What you're saying makes more sense than my route of thinking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have had 3 training sessions with this horse since I last posted, and things are going considerably better. I have been letting him into the round pen and then I enter after him; he usually spends the first 5 minutes tearing around at full speed which I just ignore, and he's even been getting better at that. He reverses directions immediately when asked now, and will slow down and speed up with just a little bit of body pressure. I feel safe in the round pen, he no longer charges or kicks at me and he is beginning to relax and work instead of invert his head and try to ignore me. He also is willing to come to me at the end now, although I personally never let my horses do that. This is how he was trained though, but eventually he will hault on the rail and I will go to him.

So now I am going to start work with leading. I have been leading him in the round pen at the end of the sessions when he is tired. I still feel a little weird about being in close proximity with him though, since he still tries to bite me on occasion. I am trying to limit most of my work with leading until he is tired and work first on not crowding me and then on yielding the hind end when asked so I know that he isn't going to kick me during other activities.

Kevinshorses:
Now my next question is what else/how can I teach him with the leading? I have a stud chain on him and I haven't used it except to apply pressure when he surges forward. He most often leads too far behind me, but I don't feel comfortable reaching behind me yet with the lunge whip and asking him forward. I lead him around the round pen and also have him yield away from my shoulder (I never have him turn towards me or step in my space). So far shoulder yielding is going well. Yielding his hind quarters however is not yet, but I'm not giving up. However I get bumped and crowded a lot. Pinching and the elbow or punch do nothing, in fact he will move towards the pressure instead of away. I know he does this with his owners because I have seen him do it, and so I end up pulling out the dressage whip and asking him out of my space, which works but then he will come right back and I ask again, and this will continue until he finally stays out of my space and we continue leading. So what else can I do and teach him? I really just want to make sure that what I'm doing is right; I've never had a horse that crowds as badly as he does.
 

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Honestly, I think this horse needs more help than you can give. He needs someone that understands pressure and release really well. If you don't time your release properly then you will not make any progress. If you insist on working on him then get the book True Horsemanship through Feel by Bill Dorrance. Don't touch the horse untill you have read the entire book twice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Honestly, I think this horse needs more help than you can give. He needs someone that understands pressure and release really well. If you don't time your release properly then you will not make any progress. If you insist on working on him then get the book True Horsemanship through Feel by Bill Dorrance. Don't touch the horse untill you have read the entire book twice.
O.K. I will check it out from the library and read it. I think part of the problem is that these people hired a mexican cowboy to start him 6 months ago. The owner told me that every time he asked the horse to do anything he would apply the whip to his body. The horse definitely has a fear driven response from the whip, and so that is why I am desensitizing him to it, just so I can keep his brain from going into the flight mode when he sees it.

But basically this is my job, I can't just not work with him. I have already seen a lot of positive progress in a short time, so I assume I can't be screwing it all up lol. I'm definitely going to read the book though.
 

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I am very jelous and wish I had him here.



I agree with everything Kevinshorses has said and this is where I would be reaching for the hobbles for a serious attitude change.

At least start tying him and have him stand for at least an hour a day that you work with him.
Work with his feet as much as you can and as you lead him turn and walk through his shoulder and he must yield to your path.
Work with backing,small circles and get a long line on him as soon as you can.

Lots of brushing and grooming when he is good and no treats at all,just a meal after a good workout.

As soon as it is warm enough,then sack him out with water and get him wet and wash him.
Some horses like this get real mad when being washed and need to get it out of their system.

Be careful!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
So after the last time I posted I've gotten 3 training sessions in with him, today being the best by far. We made a ton of progress, I still won't pick up his back feet for a few days but Saturday was the break through day and today was the first really good day.

What KevinsHorses said about pressure and release really made me think....well duh, I haven't taught him how to give from pressure so how can I expect him to learn how to lead. Add that in with the fact he thinks he is dominant and it's a recipe for disaster. So I talked to my trainer and she explained that the way I was putting pressure on him he interpreted as the way colts play with each other in a the field. One bites and puts pressure on the other horse, and the other bites back and so forth. I have to be the stallion, and MAKE him move, ask and then DEMAND, and if he talks back I commit to my decision no matter what, even if that means a knock down drag out fight. So I put on a parka, thick jeans, steal toed boots, a helmet, and gloves and grabbed the longest dressage whip, and did what I did days prior, except if he didn't respond to the pressure immediately, he got a hard whack. I started with backing up, which he did very easily and amicably once he realized I meant business. Then I switched to his neck, which ended with him facing me pretty aggressively, but I yielded him off right away and then gave him a few minutes before I asked at his shoulder. This set him off, and he came straight for me teeth bared and I stepped off to his right, I took his shoulder and he pushed me into the panels, but I got him good on his rump and then let him run for a bit on the rail since he was pretty distraught at this point. I came up to get him and patted him on the neck and BOOM. I've had a new horse every since. I did lots of leading yesterday and today I led him out on the street. We're obviously working out the kinks, but I am no longer being shown any previous form of disrespect nor is he afraid of me, in fact he's happy to see me now which I think is kind of funny. Either way I figured I would update, since this thing has a ton of views lol. I'll continue to update as training continues; I'm pretty happy I took my time because I think if I were to have had the knock down drug out fight earlier, I would have seriously gotten hurt.

And to MareCare, I've been doing all of what you suggested except for the hobbles (I don't have any), a lot of it I do anyways but I started tying him on Sunday for long periods and I doubled up on grooming which he seems to really enjoy.

I also appreciate MBender's advice. I wanted to make sure I could consistently make him move before I put a lunge line on him, simply so I could get out of the way should he really try and charge. Now that we're a week in, he's only getting lunged with a lunge line from now on.
 
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